Focal breast pain: imaging evaluation and outcomes

Wendi A. Owen, Hilary A. Brazeal, Hillary L. Shaw, Michelle V. Lee, Catherine M. Appleton, Susan O. Holley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives: To determine the number and characteristics of cancers detected and the optimal imaging evaluation in women presenting with focal breast pain (FBP). Materials and methods: We performed a retrospective review of 4720 women who underwent imaging for FBP from 2001 to 2013. Women 18 and over with one or two foci of breast pain and no concurrent breast symptoms were included. 944 patients met criteria. We recorded the imaging work-up, presence and type of finding at the site of pain, BI-RADS® assessment, and pathological outcomes. Subsequent imaging and clinical follow up was recorded. Results: Imaging evaluation consisted of sonogram alone in 286 women, mammogram alone in 231 women, and both in 427 women. 113 women had an imaging finding at the site of pain; 103 were designated benign or probably benign. 12 biopsies of corresponding findings were performed: 9 benign, 1 invasive lobular carcinoma, 1 invasive ductal carcinoma, 1 ductal carcinoma in situ. All three malignancies were seen mammographically; 2 had an ultrasound correlate. At initial evaluation, 4 incidental breast cancers were diagnosed remote from the site of FBP. All were seen on mammogram and 2 of 4 had an ultrasound correlate. On follow up evaluation, 9 cancers were diagnosed at the site of pain and 13 incidental cancers were diagnosed. Conclusion: FBP is rarely associated with malignancy. Targeted ultrasound may be deferred in women 40 and older with FBP, no other clinical findings, and a negative mammogram.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-155
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Imaging
StatePublished - May 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Focal breast pain
  • Mammography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Focal breast pain: imaging evaluation and outcomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this